BUSINESS

Do women avoid IT jobs on purpose?

CATHY GULLI June 16 2008
BUSINESS

Do women avoid IT jobs on purpose?

CATHY GULLI June 16 2008

Do women avoid IT jobs on purpose?

BUSINESS

CATHY GULLI

Why are fewer women

pursuing male-dominated professions? New research suggests it might not be because of sexism or systemic barriers to entry. It could be simply that women don’t want to work in science and tech jobs—even when they’re highly qualified and the opportunities exist.

A recent study on information technology workers led by Joshua Rosenbloom, a University of Kansas economist, revealed that men and women feel the same pressure to balance career and family demands. Both have similar professional abilities too. The big difference: men prefer working with tools or machines, so more of them choose IT jobs, while women prefer working with people. That might explain why just one-quarter of Canada’s computer and information system professionals are women, according to the 2006 census.

Another analysis, called the “Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth,” comes to a similar conclusion. It shows that women who are qualified to work in hard sciences such as physics still tend to choose social or bioscience jobs instead. The data indicates that it might be because women enjoy working with living things more than men do. Could that be why female engineers are even more scarce than female IT workers? They constitute just 12 per cent of the total engineer labour force. By contrast, women account for nearly 37 per cent of life science professionals, such as those in medicine.

The Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology recently reported that the proportion of females enrolled in engineering at university has been dropping, and last weekend they held a conference that looked at how to fix that problem. But if the research holds true and women aren’t entering the field because they just don’t want to, there might not be a problem to fix. M